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Tracking Indian Netizens

Dr. Madanmohan Rao
Internet Consultant & Writer
April 2001

Bangalore-based Internet research firm IndiaMeter.com has just released its findings of surfing behaviour for the quarter October-December 2000, and reports that among a sample of Indian surfers the portal Yahoo has maximum reach, followed by the Microsoft-owned sites MSN.com and Passport.com and then Rediff.com.

"We carefully selected a panel of 783 SEC A and B households in Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. On their home PCs we installed our proprietary software, which tracked sites visited and time spent on those sites," said IndiaMeter president and co-founder D.D. Karopady, in an interview with this writer.

The Top Ten sites for Q4 2000 reported among this panel are Yahoo.com, MSN.com, Passport.com, Rediff, Rediffmail, Netscape, NetAddress, Microsoft.com, MSN.co.in, and VSNL.net.in. Lower down on the list are sites like Indya and IndiaTimes.

The data also revealed that the top greeting sites are BlueMountain.com and 123greetings.com. It would have been useful, however, to also track which URLs were bookmarked by users, which ones were actually typed by users, and which site visits were actually triggered off by re-directs from servers (e.g. Passport.com).

In terms of average time spent on each site (measured in minutes per day), the leaders are Onebox.com, eGroups, NetAddress, Yahoo.com, and Chequemail.com. In terms of unique page views, eGroups is in the lead, followed by 123greetings, Sun.com and Excite.com.

"We have also come up with a 'stickiness' measure accounting for both frequency of visits of a site as well as amount of time spent on the site. Accordingly, the stickiest sites are Yahoo.com, MSN.com, and Onebox.com," said Karopady.

Some of the surfing data is also correlated with demographic characteristics like age, gender, and level of education.

Karopady claims such data will be useful for site designers, publishers, brand managers and advertisers looking for balancing reach with intensity of user involvement on a site.

IndiaMeter.com will shortly be releasing its findings for Q1 2001, and in future hopes to expand its research to capture differences in behaviour between veteran and novice surfers, as well as surfing patterns in cybercafes and office settings.

"We will be increasing our reporting frequency from quarterly to monthly," said Karopady.

About the author

Dr. Madanmohan Rao is an Internet consultant and writer based in India. He was formerly the communications director at the United Nations Inter Press Service bureau in New York, and vice president at IndiaWorld Communications in Bombay. Madan graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with an M.S. in computer science and a Ph.D. in communications. He is a frequent speaker on the international conference circuit, and has given talks and lectures on Internet-related issues in about 35 countries. He has worked with online services in the U.S., Brazil, and India.

He is the editor of INOMY.com (a leading Webzine about the Internet economy in India), and is on the board of editors of the magazines Electronic Markets (www.electronicmarkets.org - published from Switzerland) and On The Internet (published by the Internet Society - www.isoc.org). Madan is also on the board of directors/advisors of yellow pages firm IndiaReference.com, steel portal SteelRX.com, investment bank CoolStartups.com, Web solutions company 4Cplus.com, content services provider FridayCorporation.com, and software development portal SoftwareDioxide.com.

The author can be reached at madan@inomy.com.

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